As a small business owner, you do what you can to streamline the many tasks you manage every day. Fortunately, when it comes to accounting, there are plenty of apps to help you automate time-consuming tasks such as expense management, data entry, and invoicing. In the QuickBooks® App Store, there are more than 650 apps!
With so many options, it can be tough to choose the right app. While many apps in any given category may seem similar, the functionality can vary significantly, which is why it’s worth the time to do thorough research to find the best fit. Here are a few tried-and-true tips to help you select the right QuickBooks app for your small business.
Identify your priorities and pain points
Selecting the right app is much easier when you are clear on why you need one. Consider what your goals are for using an app and identify the problems you want it to solve.
Beyond your immediate needs, think about how the app can affect others in your company. For instance, what are your employees’ needs for the app? How many people will be using it? Some apps limit the number of users per account while others charge more for multiple users, so this is an important consideration, especially if you’re on a limited budget.
Gather functional requirements
Identify app features and functional requirements that are most important to you. A functional requirement is a task the app accomplishes, such as extracting receipt data and automatically creating an expense entry in QuickBooks. Once you have a complete list, prioritize it. Sort requirements into “must-have” and “nice-to-have” lists to make it easier to pick an app.
Browse the app categories
Apps in the QuickBooks App Store are categorized based on how you work. Review the apps and create a list that fulfills your “must-have” priorities:
- Calculate Quotes – Bid and bill your projects.
- Get Funded – Grow faster with funding.
- Make Payments – Streamline your account payables workflow.
- Manage Customers – Build profitable relationships with your customers.
- Manage Human Resources – Take care of your employees.
- Manage Projects – Organize, plan, and track your projects.
- Perform Analytics – Turn QuickBooks data into actionable insights.
- Prepare Taxes – Automate tax time.
- Receive Payments – Simplify payments to get paid faster.
- Run Payroll – Pay your employees and contractors on time.
- Send Invoices – Automate the way you send invoices and get paid.
- Sync Data – Save time by avoiding manual data entry.
- Track Expenses – Extract data from your receipts and statements.
- Track inventory – Manage inventory across all channels.
- Track Time – Track time for payroll and invoicing.
Do your research
Switching apps is costly, so it pays to pick the right app the first time. To start, read the app card. Dig deep by studying the description, watching videos, and reading customer reviews to find out all you can about the features and benefits.
You can also reach out to the app developer and ask for a demonstration. Seeing is believing, and many app developers have dedicated sales teams that are happy to walk you through the app. Review your goals, pain points, and functional requirements, and ask them how their app can help.
If you have business peers with similar needs, talk to them as well and find out which apps they use. Many problems are shared by similar businesses, especially ones in the same industry.
Try more than one app
Once you’ve narrowed down your options, try two or three free trials to see which app is the best fit for you. Run through all your business scenarios and see for yourself how the app meets your “must-have” requirements. Once you have chosen a favorite app, ask your employees to try it and get their feedback. If it doesn’t work for them, it won’t help your business.
Like dating, you have to test a few apps to find the one that works for you. This may require an upfront investment in time, but it will help clarify what you like and don’t like about an app’s user experience. While you’re experimenting, you may discover new features that make it to your “must-have” list.
Think of apps as an investment
If you’re on a tight budget, it’s hard to justify spending money on an app, but the right app will pay off with higher productivity and time savings. Apps can help your business reap high returns and free up time so you can focus on growing your sales.
For more complicated apps, it’s worthwhile to hire an accountant or consultant to set up your app. These experts understand the nuances of your business and can configure the app to accommodate your specific needs.
Train your employees
The integration of a new app often requires changes in workflow and process. Help your team adjust by training them to use the app to their benefit. After all, an app is only productive when used correctly.
An app can affect many aspects of your business, so don’t rush the process of choosing one. Be thoughtful of your business’ needs and requirements. Make sure to get your team’s feedback earlier rather than later. Get help from the app developer and your accountant. Running a successful business is a team sport, so get everyone committed to the same game plan from the start.